When you are building a PC, cable management can be a boring and time-consuming task. For a first timer, it can be something they do not know they should consider until it’s too late. So, they end up with a big bundle of cables (some of which might not even necessary) that look ugly and messy.
Good cable management starts with choosing the right components, and this is where modular power supplies (modular PSUs, for short), come in. A modular power supply is a component that is directly connected to the wall outlet to power your system. It also allows PC builders to only use the cables they need, improving not only the aesthetic of your build but also the airflow in some cases.
Besides modular PSUs, you can also find semi-modular and non-modular power supply units. The main difference between them is that you can detach some or all their cables depending on your needs.
But before you rush to get a new modular power supply, there are certain things you should know besides modularity, such as how much wattage you need, how much modular PSUs cost, and so on.
For this purpose, we have compiled a guide with all the information you need to know about PSUs, so reading on!
What are the differences between modular vs semi-modular vs non-modular power supply?
In terms of modularity, there are three kinds of PSUs: modular, semi-modular, and non-modular.
Modular power supplies (also known as “fully modular”) have fully detachable and removable cables. The cables are supplied separately, so there are no cables built into the unit. This means that you can connect or disconnect the system’s components whenever you need to.
Semi-modular power supplies, as you might have guessed from the name, have some built-in cables as well as detachable ones. However, these cables are meant to connect only the main components of your PC, such as the motherboard and the processor.
Semi-modular models may vary in the built-in connectors they come with. Some may include the 20/24-pin connector to power the motherboard, the PCIe and 8-pin CPU cables permanently attached, and others may only have the 20/24-pin connector built-in. But other than these three types of connectors, the rest will always be fully detachable.
Non-modular power supplies are units that have all the cables attached. Since the cables are integrated into the internal circuit of the source, they cannot be removed nor customized. Non-modular PSUs are the most common units in stationary computers, as they are still efficient and cheaper than modular PSUs.
To put it simply, the main difference between modular, semi-modular, and non-modular power supply units, besides their price, is whether you can detach all cables, some, or none.
Why should I buy a modular power supply?
The main reason for buying a modular power supply is to get rid of unnecessary cables that will not be used in your build. So, if you want to achieve a clean aesthetic, or improve your computer’s efficiency (or both!), then we recommend that you go fully modular.
If you decide to follow our advice, you should make sure that the unit is compatible with your motherboard and that it has enough power for the rest of your components.
You can work out how much wattage you need by using an online power supply calculator. With this tool, you only need to enter your build’s components to get a rough estimate of the wattage level you need.
However, it is best if you get a PSU with at least 20% more wattage than the estimate you got with the calculator. Why? Because if you read the specs on the unit’s packaging, you will find the peak performance levels. This means that the unit can deliver as much power as the manufacturer says, but only for a short time.
Another reason why you should get more wattage is to “future-proof” your PSU. This means that if you upgrade your build, you can still use your unit because it will have enough W for the new components.
If you want to know more about the advantages of buying a modular power supply and how much it would cost you, you can keep reading the following sections.
What are the pros and cons of a modular power supply?
Adding a modular power supply to your PC build has several advantages.
The first one, as we have already mentioned, has to do with cable management. Modular PSUs make figuring out what connects where a lot easier. You can say goodbye to useless cables taking up space and ruining your computer’s aesthetic. If you have a tempered glass PC case, then you definitely need to go fully modular.
While we are on the topic of aesthetics, did you know that with fully modular PSUs you can choose custom cables? Not only can you select the desired length, but also instead of having a bundle of multicolored cables, you can pick a color that does not take from the LEDs in your build.
One of the most important advantages that modular power supply units bring, other than cable management, is airflow efficiency. With non-modular power supplies, you have a bunch of cables stretching from the power unit to the components, which interrupts airflow and facilitates the accumulation of dust. This often leads to components overheating and having a shorter life span.
Modular power supplies prevent these issues by getting rid of the root of the problem: the cables. It also makes cleaning your PC a lot easier because you only need to unplug the PSU side of the cable.
You should be aware that modular power supplies do have one disadvantage as well, and it is the price. Do not worry, we will explain that in detail down below.
How much do modular power supplies cost?
We have mentioned before that the only downside modular power supply units have is their price, and that is because they are expensive components.
You can get a 500W fully modular PSU for approximately $60 on Amazon. From then, the prices go higher the more features and wattage the unit has. Some models even include RGB lighting systems! A 1000W modular PSU with 80 PLUS Bronze certification, silent fans, and fan speed control can cost as much as $120, depending on the brand.
The PSU usually includes all the cables you might need. However, you should keep in mind that if you want to get custom cables as well, you will have to add at least $30 more to the total.
You can find some models under $60, sure, but most of them do not have 80 PLUS certification for power efficiency, which would ultimately have an impact on your electricity bills.
If you are on a budget, or if looks are not that important to you, then it’d be a better idea to go for a semi-modular or even a non-modular PSU rather than getting a cheap modular one.
If you are building your PC and you want a clean aesthetic, buying a modular power supply unit is the way to go. Say goodbye to cable management issues that ruin your build’s look and collect dust! You can also fully customize cable length, color, and sleeving to match your computer’s aesthetic.
They can be expensive components, but a worthy investment if you can afford them. As you have seen in the pros section, they also offer great benefits as regards airflow and power efficiency.
If it is not within your budget, that is OK! We have explained the differences between them, semi-modular and non-modular PSUs so that you can find an alternative that suits you better.